- ŠKODA works duo Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm celebrate an overall win in Wales in their ŠKODA FABIA R5 – the WRC 2 title will be decided in Australia
- Works driver Pontus Tidemand takes second place on the podium – Teemu Suninen and Jan Kopecký give ŠKODA a quadruple win
- ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek: “The result in Wales is excellent – now the focus is on the championship final in Australia”
Victory for ŠKODA works driver Esapekka Lappi and his co-driver Janne Ferm at the Rally Great Britain. The “flying Finns” claimed their third season win in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC 2) in their ŠKODA FABIA R5, giving ŠKODA its second triumph in the space of a few hours. Earlier, Gaurav Gill (IND) won the drivers’ title in the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) 11,000 kilometres away in Malaysia, also behind the wheel of a FABIA R5, giving ŠKODA its fifth consecutive manufacturers’ trophy. Back in Wales, the second ŠKODA factory team consisting of Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (S/S) were rewarded for their catch-up tactics with second place ahead of Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (FIN/FIN) in a privateer team’s ŠKODA. Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ) finished fourth, giving ŠKODA a quadruple win at the Rally Great Britain. This means the WRC 2 title will be decided at the season finale in Australia.
“Congratulations to Esapekka and Janne on their win at the Rally Great Britain. It’s an outstanding result. They both drove very cleverly at this important rally,” said ŠKODA Motorsport Director Michal Hrabánek. “Going easy on the car because there were no midday services and nevertheless setting the pace paid off for us. Now the focus is on the season finale in Australia, where we have the chance to clinch the title.”
Thanks to the result of the Welsh leg, suspense is guaranteed at the season finale at the Rally Australia (17–20 November). The rules mean that ŠKODA works driver Lappi – currently third in the season standings with 107 points – is the only contender among the current top 3 who can score additional points in Australia. His rivals at the top of the season standings, Elfyn Evans (Ford) and Suninen, have already completed the maximum number of seven qualifying events and cannot rack up any extra points as a result. Lappi needs to finish at least second Down Under to move up to the top of the WRC 2 standings.
“The Rally Great Britain went perfectly for us. Conditions on the courses in Wales weren’t quite as difficult as in previous years and the set-up of our ŠKODA FABIA R5 was perfect. The whole team did an outstanding job,” said Lappi at the finishing line. “We’re delighted to have won, but we also know that we need to start preparing for Australia straight away, where it’s down to us to achieve our big goal for the season.”
The outcome in Wales means that a driver in the high-tech four-wheel-drive FABIA R5 has won nine out of the last ten WRC 2 legs. GB winner Lappi also triumphed at the event in his native Finland and won the German rally. The ŠKODA works pairing Jan Kopecký/Pavel Dresler (CZ/CZ) won the Rally Spain, and their team-mates Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson (S/S) bagged a season win at the Rally Portugal. Suninen took first place in Mexico, Sardinia and Poland, while Nicolás Fuchs (PE) won the Rally Argentina for ŠKODA.
Tidemand also has every reason to be pleased with the outcome of the Rally Great Britain. In a furious bid to catch up with Suninen, he scored six best stage times to ease past the Finn on the last trial of the rally and claim second place. Meanwhile, Kopecký took fourth place overall in the third works ŠKODA, giving the car maker a quadruple win in Wales.
Final standings Rally Great Britain (WRC 2):
|1||Lappi/Ferm (FIN/FIN)||ŠKODA FABIA R5||3:24:00.3 hrs|
|2||Tidemand/Andersson (S/S||ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 0:29.1 min.|
|3||Suninen/ Markkula (FIN/FIN)||ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 0:30.2 min.|
|4||Kopecký/Dresler (CZ/CZ)||ŠKODA FABIA R5||+ 2:18.8 min.|
|5||Aasen/Engan (N/N)||Ford Fiesta R5||+ 4:25.3 min.|
The number of the rally: 19
With 19 out of 22 possible stage wins at the Rally Great Britain going to the ŠKODA
FABIA R5, the four-wheel-drive from Mladá Bodeslav has once again proved its mettle in
this international competition. Works driver Esapekka Lappi won no fewer than eight of
the time trials in Wales, followed by his team-mate Pontus Tidemand (6) and Suninen (5)
at the wheel of a privateer team’s ŠKODA FABIA R5. The remaining three stage wins
went to Kevin Abbring (NL, Hyundai).